One of the most important SalesTech trends, besides the emergence of ChatGPT, is the rapid incorporation of engagement datasets alongside intent datasets for prioritization and messaging.
A few years ago, we saw the emergence of intent data sets such as first-party web visitor tracking, second-party product review site research, and third-party B2B media research. Initially, this content was integrated into MAPs, ABX platforms, and CDPs, but it was not well integrated into SalesTech. We are now seeing intent data being integrated into SalesTech platforms in a simplified fashion (e.g., High Intent Topics in CRM profiles and Slack alerts) that is digestible for sales reps.
However, intent data only indicates whether a company is in-market, not whether the buying committee is considering your offering or seriously engaged with your sales team. This intelligence comes from a new category of engagement data captured from digital interactions between the revenue team (sales, marketing, and customer success) and the buying committee. Engagement intelligence consists of both traditional digital interactions (e.g., clickthroughs, downloads) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) analytics derived from sales and buying team activities.
NLP helps RevTech platforms determine who is interacting with your firm. It also analyzes buyer sentiment, buyer concerns, deal health, and risk flags. The primary sources of engagement data are emails, recorded phone calls, and recorded meetings. However, any digital interaction between buyers and sellers can be captured such as activity in digital sales rooms, webinar attendance, chat messaging, and scheduled meetings. I anticipate that customer support platforms will also be tapped for engagement data to help gauge churn risk and friction during product trials.
Engagement data indicates whether a deal is on track and what issues could result in lost deals or pushed out pipeline. For example, engagement data assesses whether:
Discussions are single or multi-threaded
Key decisionmakers are involved (e.g., has a security review been performed or has legal been included?)
Competitors have been mentioned
Pricing concerns were raised
Follow on meetings have been scheduled
Meetings had a positive flow or were dominated by the sales rep
In short, engagement data provides sales reps and managers deal health and risk analytics that improve forecasting and ensure that deal risks are quickly mitigated. And as interactions are digital, managers can discuss these issues during one-on-ones or offer quick tips on next steps. They can even review the discussion associated with the risk and identify skills and knowledge gaps for coaching.
The interesting thing about intent and engagement data is they are highly complementary with each other. Operations teams should be looking at integrating intent data alongside engagement data. Intent data is valuable for identifying who and when to reach out to ideal customers. However, once a relationship is established, the focus shifts to engagement data for monitoring deal health. After a deal is signed, both engagement and intent data are in play. Intent data identifies cross-sell opportunities and churn risk through second and third-party intent topic monitoring while Engagement and Product Usage data evaluate adoption rates and potential implementation issues.
B2B data vendor Clearbit is the latest firm to announce a partnership with G2 to deliver G2’s second-party technology intent data. The G2 feed will be available alongside Clearbit’s firmographics, contacts, and Reveal visitor intelligence.
“For any company that shows up in your defined Audiences, Capture automatically creates new accounts and key contacts (from our database of marketable and verified contacts) directly in Salesforce,” blogged Clearbit CMO Kevin Tate. “This way, your marketing and sales teams can focus on engaging the right people, based on role and title, from the companies you care about.”
“Marketers know that engaging the right companies at the right time is key, but with increased pressure to build high-quality pipeline, it’s never been more critical. With G2 and Clearbit, teams can now leverage the powerful combination of company fit and buyer intent to focus their funnel – and even use Clearbit Capture to discover key buyers and contacts at their best-fit, high-intent prospects.”
Clearbit CTO Harlow Ward
G2 Buyer Intent Signals include
Companies viewing G2 Product Profiles and Sponsored Content
Companies viewing G2 Categories, Comparison Products, and Alternative & Competitor Pages
G2 Buyer Intent Scores for every visiting company
“Buyer intent data is a secret weapon for leading B2B marketers,” said Christine Li, VP of Growth & Enablement at G2. “Clearbit’s integration with G2 helps marketers take that data even further — driving more streamlined actions for sales, intent-based revenue, and realizing the full potential of account-based marketing.”
The combined first and second-party intent datasets help identify the optimal time to reach out to customers and prospects. By integrating intent data with a firm’s ICP, marketing can determine which ideal customers are in-market.
As G2 also identifies accounts that are viewing alternatives or running product comparisons, it assists with identifying competitive threats at current customers. Risk flags allow Account Executives and Customer Success Managers to reach out proactively to wobbly renewals and reduce churn risk.
Clearbit Audience and Capture combine first and second-party intelligence for building and activating campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google. Admins can also set up automated Slack alerts when intent scores are met, helping ensure that sales reps focus on target accounts while they are in-market.
“Our focus is on helping you put our Clearbit + G2 audiences to work across your existing stack and apps (with our flexible integrations & webhooks),” remarked Tate to GZ Consulting. “It’ll be interesting to see how these changes in the economy continue to affect how companies spend on MarTech – but we’re seeing more companies currently looking for flexible solutions to ‘upgrade the stack they already have’ vs. ‘rip-and-replace with a walled-garden suite.’”
In June, Revenue Intelligence vendor Clari acquired Conversational Intelligence vendor Wingman, bringing together two complementary SalesTech vendors. Wingman provided Clari users with additional account intelligence derived from calls, meetings, and emails. The goal was to provide “visibility plus action all the way from the boardroom to the bullpen,” said Wingman CEO Shruti Kapoor.
“The acquisition of Wingman, a leader in conversation intelligence, gives Clari’s category-leading Revenue Platform the unprecedented ability to analyze customer and employee conversations, extract valuable AI-driven insights, and reliably predict all revenue outcomes,” announced Clari. “Wingman goes beyond the limits of similar conversation intelligence tools by helping revenue-critical teams act in the moment when it matters.”
“A major part of our strategic vision is conversation intelligence, which is why we’re thrilled to announce that Clari has acquired Wingman, a leader in CI. This gives Clari’s Revenue Platform the unprecedented ability to analyze customer and employee conversation data, extract valuable AI-driven insights, and reliably predict all revenue outcomes. The full value of conversation intelligence has never been fully realized, until now. Clari helps your team move beyond siloed, departmental systems and processes that cause endless breakdowns across your revenue process and brings all revenue-critical employees into a unified platform to run revenue.”
Clari CEO Andy Byrne
“As we think about scaling our impact, it’s clear to us that we want to free up these insights for everyone who’s revenue-critical, from the bullpen to the boardroom,” blogged Kapoor. “We want to give you the ability to switch between micro (every customer interaction) and macro (the entire revenue pipeline) as easily as toggling channels on television.”
Wingman records, transcribes, and tags calls, storing them in a searchable library by keyword, tag (e.g., Price, Customer Pain, Blockers), or competitor mentions. Topics may be customized to capture competitors, product names, technologies, etc. Reps can also set live bookmarks across all supported video platforms.
Wingman also offers real-time battle cards, a set of short suggestions displayed in context during a call. New sales reps will be confident that they are providing accurate information consistent with company positioning. Other real-time coaching tools include long monologue alerts, word rate notices, and time-based cue cards.
Call summaries include questions, next steps, pain points, blockers, and topics of interest. Post-call analytics include call duration, longest monologue, engaging questions that elicited a response from the prospect, and interactivity.
To assist with coaching, Wingman automatically identifies speakers and creates speech tracks, letting managers or reps focus on specific individuals. It also offers a “game tapes” library for new hire training. Game tapes provide a set of best-of-breed video samples for pricing, blockers, features, etc.
Wingman also offers Deal Central deal intelligence. Deal Central identifies deal health risks such as the lack of a decision-maker or pricing not being discussed. It is this engagement intelligence that will complement Clari’s revenue intelligence capabilities.
“We were looking at all of the signals that are important for…our customers to help them make better decisions in their revenue execution…We have had great success bringing in data from CRM systems, email systems, meeting information for calendars,” stated CTO Venkat Rangan. “One thing that we also recognized was bringing in conversational data – conversational intelligence analysis of call recordings – whether it’s voice calls or Zoom meeting calls…was going to fundamentally change the quality of the signals we bring in.”
Sales reps can also share meetings or snippets with colleagues, providing access to the customer’s voice. Reps can also share call URLs with prospects and know when prospects view them.
Wingman’s monthly pricing starts at $60 per rep. It has “no hidden setup costs, no minimum seat requirement, and no charges for sales managers & observers.”
In the summer of 2021, Wingman was named a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in the Conversational Intelligence category.
When acquired in June, Bengaluru-based Wingman had 57 employees (per LinkedIn) and had doubled its ARR over the previous six months. It was founded in 2018 and claims to have over 200 customers.
“Clari’s acquisition of Wingman will help customers turn recorded conversations into a strategic asset for spotting revenue leak and driving revenue precision. At a time when leaders are looking to unify their teams and their tech stacks, adding Wingman solidifies Clari’s position as the only enterprise platform for running the end-to-end revenue process,” boasted Byrne. “Wingman’s conversation intelligence technology leads the market in real-time guidance and coaching capabilities, providing actionable insights when sellers need them most to help close deals faster. Revenue leadership can scale teams, methodologies, and go-to-market strategies with confidence knowing that all team members will have the latest messaging and collateral at their fingertips, in every conversation.”
Rangan said that Wingman was a strong fit to Clari across multiple dimensions: technologies, market approach, and culture.
Kapoor noted that the combination allows for conversational analysis at all levels. Users can Zoom into a single conversation and deal health, while managers and executives can zoom out to pipeline analytics, revenue forecasting, and deals at risk.
Bringing the organizations together was the “best and fastest way to get there together,” argued Kapoor.
Initially, Rangan would like to focus Wingman enhancements on the emerging and commercial segments due to a strong alignment between Wingman and customer needs. The Wingman roadmap also lays out steps to make Wingman mid-market and enterprise ready. Longer-term, conversational intelligence signals will be fed from Wingman into Clari and “serve all of the revenue workflows” across the boardroom, senior management, front-line management, and sales reps. Conversational intelligence will feed the forecasting and pipeline inspection processes.
Seth Marrs, Principal Analyst at Forrester, was bullish on the transaction, noting that Clari has “stayed away from deeper revenue intelligence capabilities that focus on interaction execution, preferring to aggregate that information from other tools and present it in Clari.” However, he sees four reasons that the acquisition makes sense:
Adding CI eliminates a key dependency – While Clari had access to 28% of interactions via email and calendaring, it relied on third parties to capture 45% of interactions via phone and web conferencing.
It allows for new insight generation capabilities – Conversational Intelligence employs NLP for generating additional insights to drive pipeline and deal health analytics.
Valuations have come back to Earth – Six months ago, this deal may not have made financial sense, but “with funding drying up, this is the perfect time for late-stage market leaders with large war chests to acquire technology companies at a reasonable price.”
This new capability aligns with Clari’s stated strategy – Deal health analytics derived from unstructured conversations will augment Clari’s vision of “predictable revenue growth.” It will also capture and analyze internal deal review calls and potentially update deal progress and commit status automatically. While deal status CRM updates are not a current capability, Marrs has suggested a logical future capability.
Conversation Intelligence is one of several product categories that are being merged into SalesTech platform solutions. Converging technologies include Meeting Management, Sales Engagement, Conversational Intelligence, Revenue Intelligence, and Digital Salesrooms. Clari now offers three of these (it also supports digital sales rooms via its 2021 DealPoint acquisition).
Revenue Platform Clari made a trio of announcements related to a partnership with Sales Engagement Platform Groove, the full integration of conversational sales platform Wingman, and the pending release of its Optimize module for controlling revenue leaks. Optimize helps revenue teams diagnose and address revenue leaks, reducing revenue loss due to deal slippage, bad data, and error-prone manual processes.
“The Clari Revenue Platform gives revenue leaders the past, present, and future data they need to not just control revenue but help grow it,” said Clari CEO Andy Byrne. “Only Clari provides the full historical picture and adds real-time capabilities to act fast as well as the forward-looking projections to proactively strategize revenue precision.”
Optimize offers a “single, centralized view” of revenue metrics, including win rates, forecast accuracy, and deal cycle times. In addition, Optimize helps revenue leaders answer questions such as “How is my team trending this quarter? Are we going to meet, beat, or miss on revenue? How can I ensure my reps are doing the right things to produce predictably winning results?”
Clari argues that market leaders have been unable to answer these questions proactively, making it difficult to mitigate issues and risks. Clari combines historical and external data to assist with revenue benchmarking. Thus, Clari can reach beyond the CRM to gather account intelligence. For example, it can look at usage data to assess churn risk.
“Optimize is all about finding revenue leaks so customers can see not just where and why they’re missing revenue, but what they can do about it. No other solution on the market has the ability to harness past time series data to provide a historical view of revenue leak.”
Clari CEO Andy Byrne
Optimize, available soon, will provide a single view for the whole organization of revenue and insights, capturing CRM intelligence, activity data, and forecasts. With the integration of Wingman, its recently acquiredconversational intelligence subsidiary, the voice of the customer is fully embedded within Clari analytics and forecasts.
Furthermore, Wingman provides real-time coaching during sales calls, helping reps avoid mistakes and providing real-time intelligence (e.g., technical information, competitive battlecards) to sales reps. By improving sales objection handling, parrying competitive attacks, and preventing delays due to technical follow-ups, Wingman also reduces revenue leakage.
“It’s not just about coaching your teams to sell more, or about deal reviews,” said Holly Procter, senior vice president and global head of sales at Clari. “It’s more about running your revenue better—governing revenue-critical moments for success and collaboration across revenue-critical people, which includes buyers as well as sellers. Nobody else offers this collaborative, real-time approach.”
Clari and Groove announced a partnership at Dreamforce that helps “joint customers run revenue with more precision, greater collaboration, and faster execution.” Sales Engagement Platform Groove acts as a “system of action,” while Revenue Intelligence platform Clari acts as a “system of collaboration and governance.” Both platforms sync with Salesforce, which serves as the “system of record” for sales activity.
The partners argue that while revenue is at the heart of every business, CEOs struggle to get a handle on revenue and are uncertain about whether they will meet, beat, or miss revenue projections.
“Up to fifty percent of entire company employees are revenue critical. They are responsible in some form or fashion for delivering revenue.”
Clari SVP of Marketing Kyle Coleman explained to GZ Consulting
Revenue responsibility is broader than quota carriers and includes SDRs, CSMs, AMs, leadership, product managers, and engineers. Unfortunately, “consistent, predictable execution and collaboration” across these employees remain “very challenging” due to the lack of a unified platform shared across all these roles.
“It’s also very difficult, therefore, to govern any sort of revenue process or sub-process in a repeatable way,” continued Coleman. “What revenue leaders end up doing is every quarter, they’re trying to capture this lightning in a bottle to know whether they’re going to meet, beat or miss, but it’s sort of a scramble more often than not.”
With the Groove / Clari partnership, “we will be able to govern processes, we’ll be able to replicate the best practices, we’ll be able to do the right kind of real-time analysis that leads to action in a closed loop way so that we know that everything is happening as it should be when it should be,” argued Coleman.
A common issue for revenue teams is identifying revenue leaks and mitigating them. Revenue leaks exist across the full revenue lifecycle. For example, deal slippage is identified in real-time, allowing reps to take action via Groove to bring the deal back on track.
When Clari identifies a deal slipping for competitive reasons, it can suggest a play be executed in Groove. Likewise, Clari can identify sub-par win rates, overly generous discounting, and low conversion rates for early-stage opportunities.
“We can tie our campaigns through to revenue in Salesforce, and that is something that they (Groove’s competitors) cannot do,” argued Groove VP of Marketing Kristin Hersant. “Then all of that rich data, tying engagement through to revenue is able to be pulled into Clari and used in the analysis, and that is available today.”
Coleman explained that while you can’t win a deal at any moment, you can certainly break a deal. And once a deal is lost, “it’s very difficult to un-lose” it. Thus, “if you don’t do the right thing at the right time – handle the right objection, or pull the right person in or do the right kind of follow-up” – the deal could be jeopardized. Therefore, “handling revenue critical moments expertly and in a prescribed way” that is governed by best practices is critical in addressing revenue leaks.
“Having all of that insight into all these moments that exist and then having confidence that every one of your employees is going to be able to execute on this? Well, this is what’s so exciting to us,” said Coleman.
“Clari has always been about providing companies with the collaboration and governance required to run revenue with maximum precision, and Groove completes the equation by enabling our joint customers to turn the insights we provide into action,” said Byrne. “We’ve seen incredibly strong results from joint customers using our two platforms together, and this formal partnership will help us transform even more revenue organizations.”
Groove offers enterprise customers a Salesforce-native SEP that records all activity directly to Salesforce.
“Groove and Clari coming together is definitely a ‘1 + 1 = 3’ scenario for revenue leaders,” said Groove CEO Chris Rothstein. “Bringing together Clari’s revenue collaboration and governance capabilities with Groove’s strength in sales execution and productivity provides the ultimate value proposition: See the future with Clari and then create that future with Groove.”
Revenue Intelligence vendor People.AI announced a trio of product enhancements to its Platform: Engagement Dashboards, Account Planning, and People.ai for Oracle Sales Cloud. The enhancements are intended to “help sales and ops teams drive greater efficiency, deeper relationships, and clearer visibility.”
According to Seth Marrs of Forrester, 82% of sales activities are digital and available for capture and analysis. Furthermore, these analytics go beyond historical engagement data such as email opens and downloads and include insights concerning the nature of the interaction, buyer sentiment, open questions, and next steps.
Marrs sees the biggest RevTech trends as “the availability of interaction data and what that can do to really drive visibility into where you want to go, visibility into how you can better interact with customers, visibility into what you need to do to win more. It’s unprecedented. Now the big thing is how you pull that all together into an insight engine that can really help sales leaders and sellers. And on the other side of it, how do you get sales leaders and sellers to adopt this.”
One issue is the fragmentation of channels, with few vendors supporting cross-channel insight gathering and analytics.
“The real nuggets and the real value are in your ability to go out and find insights in that data that are actually new or that you couldn’t see before that you can use to help the seller win more deals, that you can use to identify more deals,” expanded Marrs.
Marrs called Revenue Intelligence insights “force multipliers” that aren’t geared towards doing things faster but improving sales efficacy. While automated activity capture offers efficiency gains by removing sales rep data entry, its true value is in standardizing the data capture and offering insights.
“The industry today has turned selling into an obstacle course, where reps need to navigate so many hurdles in order to actually do their job. We’re clearing the pathway so teams can focus on what matters: building revenue,” said Oleg Rogynskyy, CEO of People.ai. “Our newest product offerings aim to transform the B2B sales process by providing our customers with more data and greater insight to accelerate business decisions that will grow pipeline, increase deal sizes, shorten sales cycles and boost win rates.”
Engagement Dashboards improve the visibility of buyer and sales engagement and identify at-risk accounts and opportunities. Engagement Dashboards offer personalized tables with custom metrics for any CRM or People.AI field, providing an improved understanding of opportunity and pipeline health. Dashboards are self-service and can be created by either users or admins.
Reps can find out which high-value accounts have low engagement or are missing key stakeholders, which accounts have pipeline potential, and which accounts are vendors properly engaged at the department and persona level.
Engagement Dashboards also assist with rep coaching with a My Performance page that compares current performance against past performance and peers.
The People.AI Account Planning application operationalizes a company’s account planning methodology within Salesforce. Account Planning helps visualize each “buyer’s business, goals, and obstacles” for enhanced opportunity discovery.
ClosePlan, a 2021 acquisition, has been integrated with People.AI. ClosePlan offers scorecards and playbooks designed around sales methodologies such as MEDDIC, MEDDPIC, Miller Heiman, BANT, and Value Selling. Reps can quickly qualify opportunities and identify blind spots. Deal Scorecard dashboards display opportunity health to align deal conversations better and take corrective actions. New features include the ability to attach opportunities and account maps to account plans.
Engagement data is integrated into account maps, identifying which departments are engaged and which ones present deal risk. Maps also identify positive and negative relationships across accounts.
New stakeholder insights cards (see image on the right) detail engagement trends, upcoming activities, sales team connections, and the opportunities with which the stakeholder is affiliated.
PeopleGlass, which offers a single pane of glass for viewing and updating opportunities across accounts, added field-level commenting and sharing across the account team.
People.AI also refreshed the PeopleGlass UX to simplify onboarding, personalization, navigation, and integration with Salesforce templates. Users can also @ share with colleagues specific fields, share the full PeopleGlass view, and quickly create new opportunities in Salesforce.
People.AI for Oracle Sales Cloud helps generate revenue by “increasing sales productivity, which will drive more and bigger deals faster and increase buyer satisfaction.” People.AI supports automated data capture with matching, filtering, and contact enrichment, freeing “sellers from tedious data-entry tasks,” allowing them to focus on selling. The service also offers “prescriptive and contextual seller actions” that assist with account targeting and activity prioritization.
“We’re collaborating with People.ai because we’re equally laser-focused on transforming the sales process into a modern revenue engine,” said Katrina Gosek, Product Management VP, Oracle Customer Experience. “Together, we will be able to provide our mutual customers with the actionable revenue insights needed to drive significant revenue transformation and growth.
People.AI already supports Salesforce, with over 250 implementations.
In its November release, People.AI will be supporting summary visualization for addressing questions such as with which personas and departments we should be engaging, which high-value accounts have low engagement, and how much pipeline is at risk.
People.AI will also begin managing data gathering and reporting across multiple CRM instances, providing an overview of account activity across different divisions or regions. Multi-CRM unification provides “visibility into who’s talking to which accounts, identify cross-sell opportunities, and gain buyer group intel across business units and acquisitions.”
I am covering CRM data capture and enrichment vendors this week in my blog. Yesterday, I covered Nektar.AI, and on Thursday, I will cover Winn.AI.
Outreach announced the general availability of Outreach Guide, its new revenue intelligence and deal management solution. Guide provides real-time conversation intelligence, best practice action plans, and “deal health at a glance.” Outreach also announced administrative enhancements to its Engage product and a “deep integration” with ABX Platform 6sense.
Outreach Guide, Engage, and Commit act as the “foundation” of Outreach’s sales execution platform, supporting revenue organizations across the full customer sales cycle “from prospecting for new business opportunities to deal management to sales forecasting.”
Outreach aims to create a “single system of execution” that helps revenue organizations meet their full potential and address issues with prospecting, deal management, and forecasting.
To help address this “sales execution gap,” Machine learning models “learn from the actions taken in our platform and generate data-driven, predictive, real-time insights that recommend actions for users to take to improve their sales execution,” said CEO Manny Medina.
Outreach Guide supports three core capabilities:
Deal Health Scores: The Deal Health Score employs machine learning to predict deal health. It also provides deal insights, recommended actions, and where to focus. In addition, deal Health displays positive and negative indicators (e.g., stuck in current stage, no recent inbound emails, recent executive engagement).
Deal Health signals deals at risk to both the sales rep and sales management, providing an opportunity to address problems and adjust forecasts.
Deal Health scores can be viewed in the aggregate as well, providing a neutral perspective on how each deal is proceeding versus comparable opportunities.
Deal Health scores are currently in beta.
Kaia Real-time assistance and conversation intelligence:Kaia offers real-time call transcription, content cards, and context-based rep enablement during Zoom and Microsoft teams meetings. After meetings, Kaia streamlines meeting summaries with AI-captured action items and follow-ups. As a result, Outreach claims rep productivity increases by nearly 30%, and the likelihood of scheduling a follow-up meeting jumps by 36%.
Kaia is linguistically customized for each client, capturing product names and competitors as keywords. During a call, content cards display real-time sales aides, such as product summaries or technical notes. Content cards provide quick cheat sheets on product value, pricing, or integrations (see the example on the right).
By removing notetaking and displaying content cards, Kaia allows sales reps to be more present during calls and pitch with greater confidence; instead of pausing a meeting to jot down notes, sales reps can quickly add a bookmark or short meeting note.
Automated and collaborative purchasing through Success Plans:Success Plans foster collaboration between buyers and sellers with detailed online purchase action plans that include a timeline, success criteria, resources, and team views. Collaborative action plans align stakeholders, build buyer trust, ensure timely stakeholder engagement, and provide internal stakeholders with prospect engagement and deal progress. Outreach claims that reps who closely monitor Success Plans enjoy a 13% bump in close rates.
“The buying team has all the information related to the deal in a central place, and all teams are aligned to clearly understand each other’s goals, interactions, and requirements essential for driving long-term success, delivering an unparalleled buying experience throughout the entire selling process,” stated Director of Product Marketing Elizabeth Dailing.
Furthermore, Success Plans are available to Customer Success teams when onboarding new customers, helping streamline handoffs.
The Team view helps track who is involved from the buying team and how engaged they are, how recently they were engaged, and what content they viewed.
Trigger Enhancements – A streamlined trigger builder improves the creation, management, and discovery of triggers. The refreshed trigger builder is aligned with traditional CRM language and supports multiple values per condition, drag-and-drop action reordering, and simplified condition group creation.
New Outlook-Add In – A native integration lets reps ‘Send’ emails from Outlook and send and sync “relevant emails to Outreach, as well as insert their available times or add a link to their calendar.” Outreach will also flag opted-out communications in Outlook and prevent them from being sent or added to a sequence.
Microsoft Graph Integration
Data Retention in Outreach Voice Recordings – Admins can configure data retention policies such as deleting data as a one-time event or setting up regular data deletions for Outreach Voice Recordings.
Additionally, Outreach announced an Irish Datacenter for Outreach Engage, meeting EU data residency requirements for GDPR compliance. “The EU Datacenter for Outreach Engage allows an organization’s data to be stored in a specific geographic location,” blogged Caroline Shin, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Outreach. “This means customer-owned data associated with those Outreach instances including prospects, accounts, organizations, and workflow data such as sequences and meetings will be stored and contained within the EU infrastructure.”
Salesloft continues to extend its value proposition beyond sales engagement and conversational intelligence into deal forecasting and revenue intelligence. Its new Forecast capability, bundled with the Enterprise edition, is available as part of Salesloft’s Spring ’22 Release. Other spring enhancements include Multi-language Support for Conversations, Out-of-Office Detection, and mobile updates.
Salesloft noted that forecasting remains a “disjointed and manual process” often conducted with spreadsheets. Sales professionals must collect information from disconnected systems and often deliver inaccurate numbers that waste “valuable selling time.” What’s more, manual processes provide few insights for improving sales results and aren’t actionable. Thus, significant resources are expended coming to a forecast number, but by the time the CSO or CRO rolls it up to the CEO, the forecast is a black box number based on quickly aging data with few actionable insights.
“Forecasting is a critical process for every revenue organization,” said Salesloft CPO Ellie Fields. “But when sellers use spreadsheets, there’s a high risk of user error and acting on old data. Spreadsheets aren’t scalable, are incredibly manual, ungoverned, and only serve as a snapshot in time. There’s no context to help sellers look ahead.”
In a presentation to GZ Consulting, SVP of Product Management Frank Dale emphasized that Salesloft is looking to stay in the “revenue lane” focusing on “what happens between the buyer and the seller.” Forecasting falls within the revenue lane as it “leverages the data generated from interactions between buyers and sellers.” Furthermore, forecasting should not be separate from revenue generation. It isn’t simply calling a number but “taking action to make that number.”
The revenue lane “covers all core selling jobs” and tasks, including driving demand, generating pipeline, managing deals, and engaging customers.
“Revenue teams don’t want a forecast. They want a real-time, adaptive week-by-week action plan to beat their number. That’s not what forecasting is today. Forecasting, as it is done today, sucks. For most revenue teams, it is something they have to do, not something they want to do. That’s because the tools they have available make just getting to a forecast number difficult and time-consuming. What’s worse is that they don’t often trust the number they arrive at. That’s a big problem. It’s hard to know where to spend your time when you’re not sure if what you’re looking at is accurate.”
Salesloft SVP of Product Management Frank Dale
The Salesloft Modern Revenue Workspace is built on three pillars: Connecting with buyers, improving interactions with customers and prospects based on the data that is generated from interactions, and aligning the team around best practices. Forecasting falls into the alignment pillar but is designed to support connection and feedback.
“There is a huge gap. The gap is not necessarily about calling the number, but it is more about the action plan on that number,” explained Senior Director of Product Management Anshu Chowdhery to GZ Consulting. Salesloft set two goals for its Forecast launch: A shared workflow for gathering deal intelligence and turning it into a forecast; and the ability to achieve that number.
Salesloft Forecast capabilities include
Forecasts are rolled up across the organization.
Users can drill down to opportunities and track changes in the pipeline. They can also take action from within Forecast.
An AI-driven forecast model employs “sales engagement data and historical performance to dial in on what’s likely to land, and what you can influence.”
Forecasts are based on AI models and engagement data gathered by Salesloft.
“What we’re building is an integrated, whole system,” remarked Dale. “We’re integrating all of the activity capture from Cadence, all of the conversation data and capture from our conversation intelligence product, the CRM data from our deals product, and then the ability to turn around and take action again through our cadence product once you’ve made the call.”
“This forecasting product is built on top of [our] Deals product,” expanded Chowdhery. “Deals bi-directionally syncs with Salesforce. So, everything that lives on Salesforce is in Deals, and that’s the significant advantage of [our] forecasting solution. We are able to sync everything and pull all information, not only from Salesforce but across our platform – every engagement that’s happening on the cadence side or conversation side. The sales leader has the ability to view that timeline and identify…[whether] no conversations happened in the last thirty days; this deal is at risk; what should I do in order to win that deal?”
A Weekly Opportunity Changes view lists all of the changes to amounts, close dates, and stages over the past week and how those changes impact the forecast, providing a dynamic view of weekly activity.
Dale stated that Forecast provides value across the revenue team. Frontline sales management has greater visibility into the pipeline, and Forecast provides sales reps “a true read on what they need to do to land and hit their number.” In addition, both reps and managers benefit from reduced busy work in managing pipeline updates.
Dale contends that daily administrative work for reps is reduced by an hour by streamlining the forecasting and updating process.
While Forecast focuses on new business forecasting, future enhancements will support renewal forecasting and run-rate forecasting (i.e., intra-period deals). Also, Salesloft will continue to build out its analytics and plans to release Vulnerable Opportunities Notifications for flagging at-risk opportunities.
Forecast provides a common workflow that rolls up deal intelligence across the organization. Users can drill down into specific deals and take actions, greatly improving insights and actionability. “This is a seamless workflow for the reps and honestly, across the entire revenue organization to submit their forecasts and submit their number,” said Chowdhery.
A modern forecasting system must be part of your sales execution system,” blogged Fields. “The information about your deals in flight – who’s contacting the customer, what meetings were had and what was said, how the customer responds — is the foundational information that your forecast rests on. If you’re using a sales engagement platform, all of that activity is already being tracked automatically, without your sellers needing to spend time logging their activities. Meetings and calls are recorded and searchable so you can review that pivotal moment with the buyer.”
“Forecasting under-delivers when the end result is just a number,” continued Fields. “The end result should be a set of actions you can take to deliver better results. To do that, you need to not only see a number, but you need to see areas of softness and strength, important deal gaps, and opportunities. You need to recognize that the East team will need your support this quarter, but that the West will probably overachieve. You need to know where to spend your team’s time most productively to get over the line.”
Dale emphasized the importance of cross-product workflows aligned with “things people actually want to do.” Unfortunately, vendors often build technology that “chases a problem” or is designed to answer checklist questions about functionality. Salesloft “starts with problems people have and then builds solutions to match that. So anytime you see us build something like forecasting, we’re building it based on what people are actually trying to do.” Forecasting was built because it was a regular customer request.
Salesloft claims that its new Forecast module transforms forecasting “from a burdensome task into a strategic action plan to close more revenue.” Revenue estimates and deal close dates are derived from real-time data and employ “multiple forecasting techniques to make it easy to see where the team’s performance is trending.” AI helps identify missed opportunities and deals at risk, letting reps mitigate deal risk and factor it into pipeline estimates. As Forecast is native to Salesloft’s Modern Revenue Workspace, managers can assign follow-ups or add deal notes within the Salesloft workflow.
“With Forecast, customers have the visibility, intelligence, and workflow to close deals more consistently and act upon unrealized opportunities,” stated the firm.
“Forecast by Salesloft is an intelligent solution with strong data governance, so there’s less room for errors,” stated Fields. “Sellers can forecast and take action on those deals from the same platform. When sales managers have real-time visibility and the ability to drill down, coaching sellers and taking action happens naturally, leading to better deal outcomes.”
“Zoom IQ for Sales analyzes customer interactions to surface key insights, actions, and content from sales meetings. Sales leaders can also use this data to help make better-informed management decisions regarding their sales teams,” blogged UCaaS Product Marketing Manager Theresa Larkin. “With actionable insights based on proven sales strategies and a wealth of data, organizations can streamline the new sales rep onboarding process, create a modern sales methodology, and further develop their sales teams.”
Zoom describes Zoom IQ for Sales as its “First Step in Conversational Intelligence.” The service is “tightly integrated” with Salesforce, Google Calendar, Office 365, and Exchange. Insights include
Engaging Questions – Analyzes questions posed to determine the frequency with which customers respond to queries.
Longest Spiel – Identifies the longest monologue to help reps hone their pitches and avoid monologues.
Next Steps – Assesses whether clear next steps are outlined during the meeting.
Patience – Determines whether reps wait for a response after asking a question.
Talk-Listen Ratios – Analyzes whether there is a balance between lead speaker talk time and time granted to others.
Competitor and Feature Mentions – Tags competitors and product features so reps, competitive analysts, and product teams can drill into prospect concerns, competitive statements, and potential gaps in the product.
Post-deal analytics include which topics arose most frequently, time spent in each stage, and which negotiators made the final purchasing decision. General Deal analytics include the number of conversations per deal and the duration of conversations per deal.
Zoom IQ supports a video snippets library of best practices exemplars. Snippets can be used for initial training or for reviewing how to handle specific objections, present the value of various products, or position across target verticals.
“Zoom has made strategic investments in homegrown speech recognition technologies and recruited a world-class team to produce high-fidelity transcription services that are a backbone for products like Zoom IQ…We’re developing domain-specific NLU (natural language understanding) using few-shot models to build features that will be more reliable and valuable to our users,” said Josh Dulberger, Zoom’s head of product, data, and AI. “Sales teams…want to focus on the customer, and managing the engagement rather than taking notes, but also so they can review their calls to pick up nuances, easily identify next steps, or solicit some guidance from a colleague. Managers and sales leaders can’t sit in on every call but want to understand the selling climate, when to coach, and which reps are finding the right message.”
TechCrunch Senior Report Kyle Wiggers cautioned buyers about Zoom’s AI capabilities: “The jury’s out on the accuracy of Zoom’s algorithms, particularly given the company’s history of deploying flawed AI. Sentiment analysis algorithms are especially prone to gender and race bias, and not every salesperson will necessarily agree with how Zoom measures engagement.”
“Zoom is almost certainly feeling the pressure from investors to establish new lines of revenue,” continued Wiggers. “While the company’s earnings soared during the pandemic, guidance is down as customers begin to shift to hybrid and in-office work arrangements less reliant on videoconferencing.”
Zoom IQ for Sales is priced at $79 per month per seat.
“Half a million businesses choose Zoom and rely on it for internal and external conversations,” said Dulberger. “The Zoom platform already has a strong foundation in this area with features such as transcription, recordings, and highlights. This also gives us an opportunity to expand this type of functionality across the Zoom platform such as Zoom Contact Center and within our meetings and events solutions to help presenters pace their speech, take notes, capture action items or employ specific tactics.”
Zoom Events, Zoom’s platform for virtual and hybrid shows, is adding a backstage feature that lets panelists, speakers, and production crews meet before, during, and after events. During the session, support staff can view the webinar feed, chat with each other, answer attendees’ questions, and practice their presentations. Zoom Events Backstage should be available by the end of April.
Other new Events features include branded wallpaper that displays behind tiles and webinar reactions.
Sales Engagement Platform vendor Outreach will be rolling out AI-Guided Deal Intelligence in 2022. The new Deal Insights functionality provides a consolidated opportunity view that includes a deal overview, deal health, risks, and next best action recommendations from a single pane of glass.
“Deal Intelligence doesn’t just warn you a deal is off track but will actually guide you to help understand what you can do now, in the moment, to change the outcome,” explained Senior Communications Manager Amanda Woolley to GZ Consulting. “Deal Intelligence is going to reach across the Outreach platform and gather signals from all facets of the platform and throughout the customer journey and move from risk identification into action.”
Many of the components of Deal Intelligence such as Sentiment Analysis, Success Plans, Kaia, Commit, and engagement monitoring already exist in the Outreach platform, with the new Deal Intelligence tying together data and insights from the various modules and summarizing them with deal health and next best action recommendations.
“Built on the foundation of our deep machine learning tools like Kaia, Intent, title classification, and more, Deal Intelligence will help remove some of the “best guesses” we revenue leaders have been doing,” explained Outreach CRO Anna Baird. “Deal Intelligence will be gathering signals and let us know – not only when we have a risk – but what we can do to change the outcome! It’s not just a warning light, but a full explanation of how to correct the issue. Deal Intelligence will bring true transparency to opportunity management and help us get to that predictable revenue goal we all want.”
Deal intelligence is gathered across the deal lifecycle and ongoing customer interactions, including sequences, email sentiment, calendaring, Outreach Kaia (conversational intelligence and real-time recommendations), Success Plans (digital salesrooms), and Outreach Commit (pipeline health and forecasting).
“The current ML model looks at the multiple factors and compares them across benchmarks we have collected to derive the [Health Insights] score,” explained Woolley. “Some of the key top-level factors included Decision-maker engagement, activity across email and calls, meeting analysis as well as interaction within Success Plan. For every deal, the ML model determines which factors are positive (‘green flag’) or negative polarity (‘red flag’).”
Both red and green flags are displayed in Deal Intelligence. The Deal Intelligence service summarizes relevant signals, but “given the number of signals captured, it is very hard for a sales rep to drill through every deal.” Outreach’s goal is to “surface all the relevant information for the sales rep in a unified view with the ability to drill deeper as well as take action from within Outreach.”
“Sales reps only succeed when they take the right actions to close deals, yet for far too long they have lacked true visibility into the health of their deals and are forced to turn to intuition and guesswork to select the next best actions to take. Sales leaders and reps have to contend with disparate, dated sales technologies as they strive for an accurate understanding of their deals, pipeline, and forecast. CRM solutions provide a way to store data but rely on extensive tedious manual data entry from sales reps, often resulting in a “garbage-in garbage-out” situation that does not help reps or managers make confident decisions. Point solutions like conversation intelligence offer a way to record conversations and glean insights hours or days later, but at best, they can tell what the reps’ next actions in other systems should be. All are failing to deliver deal observability. And none of them give real-time deal intelligence to sales reps and seamlessly automate the next actions all in one continuous experience. Until now, that is.”
Outreach CMO Melton Littlepage
Part II continues tomorrow with a discussion of Outreach deal health analytics across the deal lifecycle.
According to LinkedIn, “The Great Reshuffle” has increased turnover amongst buyers and sellers, leading to greater deal risk. Over the past three months, executive departures (Director and above) have increased by 31% globally. Among sales reps, the rate is up 39%. Thus, the likelihood of a deal being delayed due to a key member of the demand unit or sales team leaving has grown sharply.
Before the pandemic, the standard decay rate of contact records was between 25 and 30%. If the rate has jumped by one-third, then the likelihood of a specific member of the buying committee departing over a three-month sales cycle is approaching ten percent. Thus, a demand unit with six members will likely have one departure every three months, increasing the need for executive change alerts, multithreading of deals, and a deeper understanding of the demand unit.
If the deal is more complex, the odds of delays and stalled deals due to executive changes increase rapidly. A six-month deal cycle with a dozen members of the demand unit (financial, technical, and functional decision-makers, purchasers, influencers, lawyers, compliance, etc.) could lose two or three members. And that doesn’t even factor in the risk of churn on the vendor side. What’s worse, single-threaded sales reps have close to a 20% risk that their champion leaves the company or assumes a different role over the deal lifecycle.
The renewal math becomes scary as well. If the customer success team regularly interfaces with four individuals on the customer side, one or two of them may depart over the year, increasing churn risk. Furthermore, a higher churn rate among customers necessitates greater administrative and training tasks.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that 80% of sales reps have had a deal delayed or lost due to departures.
LinkedIn Senior Director of Global Sales James Burnette argued that multithreading is key to managing deal risk. “Multithreading – i.e., forming relationships with multiple people on the buying committee at an account – is always a best practice.” Burnette noted that sellers with at least four connections at an account are “16% more likely to close a deal with that company, compared to sellers who have less than four connections.”
“The most beneficial thing you can do right now is to learn how to master multithreading,” JB Sales Training Director Morgan Ingram said. “Gathering champions, influencers, and talking directly to the decision-makers is the key to success when it comes to closing deals faster in a difficult environment.”
Conversely, departures can foster relationships at new accounts, so knowing that a key demand unit member has departed is important for both risk mitigation at current opportunities and accounts and building relationships at new organizations. LinkedIn can both flag executive departures and maintain an open line of communications with a champion after he or she has settled into a new position.
“Resources are scant with so many people exiting key roles, so there are opportunities where they might not have been opportunities in the past,” Assist You CEO Robert Knop said. “Look through your connections – there are uncovered sales there.”
Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst at Forrester, predicts that the Great Resignation will also impact marketing teams, with CMOs assembling more virtual teams consisting of freelance talent, fractional executives, and agency partners.
“We’re seeing clients in places like the Midwest having trouble keeping the talent they’ve built because their team members can get 25% more by working remotely for a New York agency. The distance and untethering from our geographies give people a lot more options, and they will minimize their pain and maximize their gain. So, there will be some stress on those internal competencies.”
Job turnover is likely to continue in the near term. The labor market remains out of balance with 100 open jobs for every 75 unemployed professionals, driving the quit rate to 4.4 million in September, a record high.
“You’re essentially seeing demand continuing to increase without an offsetting increase in talent,” Ryan Sutton, a district director at staffing company Robert Half International. “Until some new talent comes in, until we get employees who are on the sidelines back into the market, it’s very likely this is going to continue.”